Just over two weeks ago Jack Ritchie (pictured above celebrating his 50 in the recent Final) won the Benaud Medal as the Player of the Match in the Sydney First-Grade Final due to his match winning 87*. However the association of the Ritchie and Benaud names goes back almost 70 years as Jack’s grand-father, Bruce, was a team mate of Richie Benaud at Central Cumberland, now Parramatta.
In fact, it was quite surreal for Jack to be awarded the Benaud medal just before Richie Benaud passed away. Bruce was great friends with Richie and was in fact best man at Richie’s first wedding. He was invited to the private ceremony at Benaud’s funerals last week but unfortunately could not make it down from the Sunshine Coast due to ill health.
On the day Richie Benaud made his first grade debut, for Central Cumberland against Glebe, 26th October 1946, Bruce Ritchie was starring for Sydney Grammar School in its match against Sydney Boy’s High. Bruce took 4-92 and scored 51 and 102 not out.
Later that season, 25th January 1947, 17 year old Bruce would make his first-grade debut with Cumberland against North Sydney. Richie Benaud made six, and batting one below him, Bruce top scored with 70 (1 six, 5 fours) of Cumberland’s 186.
The following day, in a Poidevin Gray match against Marrickville, Bruce scored 100 not out.
Bruce would go on to play first-grade for Central Cumberland, along with Richie, through 1958-59, amassing 2796 runs at 22.54 with 14 half-centuries.
Although Bruce did not manage a first-grade century, he did contribute to five first-grade century partnerships. In one, for Cumberland against Western Suburbs in 1948-49, he added 126 for the fourth wicket with Benaud. In that innings, Bruce scored 71* and Richie 69.